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Posted on Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 6 a.m.

Set specific mini-goals when handling Turkey Day and other rich food holidays

By Delfina Bonilla-Cassel

athletic turkey.jpg

Photo courtesy of Oregon Athletic Clubs

No one would disagree that it can be extremely difficult to stay motivated during the holiday season. Even so, Thanksgiving day does not have to be the vehicle that drags all of your hard work and health minded-ness down a slippery slope. I believe that, on this particular day you can have your cake (or shall I say pumpkin pie) and eat it too (at least, to a certain extent).

Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness gave a great podcast interview with Dr. Srini Pillay, in which they covered topics from paranoia to rebound relationships. What resonated most with me was the section on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation.

What’s the difference? Intrinsic motivation refers to motivations that come from within (feeling strong); extrinsic motivation refers to outside motivations (fitting into a size 4). Everyone makes use of both types of motivation, but I believe a sub-category of extrinsic motivators called "implementation intentions" are what can truly help keep us in line for the Thanksgiving.

So, what are they? Unlike a generic goal such as "I want to lose weight," implementation intentions are extremely detailed sentences (or miniature goals) we create for ourselves coded in a specific way for a specific occasion.

 An example might be: "During Thanksgiving dinner at Aunt Jemimah’s house, I will serve myself at dinner time to control my portion sizes, making sure that three quarters of my plate is filled with vegetables, and one quarter of my plate with turkey and mashed potatoes."

In addition to setting yourself an implementation intention for Thanksgiving, schedule an email or phone reminder (or leave a sticky note in an obvious spot, like the refrigerator…) for Thanksgiving morning with a copy of that particular implementation intention. The enhanced amount of detail within your particular implementation intention will provide clear direction, making success a whole lot easier to reach.

And you don’t have to stop at Thanksgiving. You can set implementation goals all throughout the holiday season!

Be sure to frame your implementation intention in a positive light, so you don’t end up feeling like you’ve just beat yourself up.

Oh and one more plus! With all of the spare time you'll have freed from stuffing your face, you can actually dedicate some time to reflect on the things for which you are truly grateful (and maybe think up some pre-mature implementation intentions for a successful New Year's Resolution!).

What will your Thanksgiving day implementation intention be this year? Click here to see mine!

Delfina Bonilla-Cassel is the founder of EnForma Fit LLC and an ACE Certified Personal Trainer and yoga instructor. Her motto is "Shaping the best you, one workout at a time." Visit her website or blog, or find her on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.



Mon, Nov 21, 2011 : 9:02 a.m.

Nice idea, would be nice to keep myself from adding on to many unwanted pounds during the holidays, thanks for the tips!

Delfina Bonilla-Cassel

Tue, Nov 22, 2011 : 1:31 a.m.

Jamie, Thanks for the comment. I hope these tips are helpful during a temptation filled holiday season.